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What’s a Luminometer? And Why Should You Care?

Luminometer Can Make Your Job Easier.

Luminometers have been used in labs for decades. They provide easily interpreted answers to molecular questions. The technology is proven and reliable, and – when it comes to water – they’ll let you quickly analyze samples while working in the field.

Luminometers can be used to measure the chemical marker adenosine triphosphate (ATP). That’s a compound found in all types of plant, animal and microbial cells. When it comes to water, you can figure out the size of the microbial population present in a sample based on how much light is produced when ATP reacts with the naturally-occurring enzyme luciferase. That’s the same enzyme that makes firefly tails glow.

The light the reaction produces can be measured by a luminometer. The amount of light generated is directly proportional to how much ATP is present — which immediately shows the level of biological contamination.

PMTs: What are they?

One of the key parts of a luminometer is the detector – what’s known as a photo multiplier tube, or PMT. PMTs are very sensitive vacuum phototubes that can detect a range of types of light. You might have heard about them on Big Bang Theory. In one episode, a PMT was used to detect light bouncing off the moon. The show’s writers knew that astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission put an array of five mirrors on the moon to let scientists track if the moon was getting further away from the earth or closer. Astronomers can now shine a laser beam at the moon at a particular spot and use a photo multiplier to receive the signal. You might also know that PMTs are used for many scientific applications, including blood analysis devices in clinical labs – the biggest international driver of PMT production.

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin Aldrin’s footprint in the lunar soil.


LuminUltra’s PhotonMaster

PMTs are very sensitive, so if you’re planning to use a luminometer in the field it needs to be fairly rugged. It’s also important to make sure the device is both easy to use and cost effective. LuminUltra’s PhotonMaster luminometer meets these requirements. It’s also USB-powered and fully integrates with LuminUltra’s software, allowing readings to be directly uploaded.

When matched with customized test kits and the LuminUltra Cloud analysis and interpretation software, our luminometer can provide the answers to your water questions.

Bonus reading:

To learn more about ATP, check out What Is ATP and What Does It Do?


Stacey Pineau

Clearly explaining complex topics has been Stacey’s focus for close to 25 years now. She helps plan how best to reach the right people, then works to provide them with relevant information that’s easy to understand. Stacey is a team player with an entrepreneurial spirit. She has broad experience that spans the private and public sectors. A lover of words, Stacey has a slightly irrational love of the library and a personal collection of way too many books and magazines. She lives in Fredericton with her husband Ray, their two children and dog Scouty.

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